I’ve heard it said that “the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” As I consider the enigmatic issue and the paradoxical problems that loom before me, I think the question at hand is often very simple. 

Take, for instance, “gender-affirming care.” I believe the appropriate question for this issue is: Have we as a nation stood at the crossroads of what some would call a medical miracle that others call medical malpractice? Fortunately, history bears clear, concise, compelling, and convincing proof that we have indeed stood at this fork in the road at least twice over the last 100 years.

The first time this occurred was in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The depressed, distressed, and marginalized were promised by some of our government officials and medical professionals a better quality of life, the best health care, and perpetual treatment at the best medical facilities if they tried the medical experimentation available at the time. Several hundred poor Black men and boys signed up.

Likewise, this same promise was given in the 1960s to Black women on welfare. They were told that if they tried certain medical procedures, then they would be given the best medical coverage available and also experience better quality of life.  In short, their depression and and anxiety would be alleviated. 

Before I disclose to you how each group was treated and what happened, let’s examine what’s going on right now.  

Currently, some of our medical professionals and government officials are telling our young people that if they accept so-called “gender-affirming care,” then they too will experience a better quality of life and receive the best medical care available for the rest of their life.  Some argue this is statistically supported. However, what do we see when we look at the studies in Europe where they are years ahead of us in transgender care?

Recently, a slew of studies has been released from several of Europe’s leading countries. England, France, Finland, and Sweden have released medical guidance encouraging providers in their countries to do the exact opposite of what is taking place in the United States. In short, puberty blockers should only be used as a last resort. Gender reassignment surgery should only be used after puberty, if at all. Even if someone detransitions, they will be sterile from the gender transition surgery. 

Additionally, Sweden, in the largest study of trans bodies conducted to date, found that when given substantive mental health treatment, more than 80% of young people suffering gender dysphoria have the symptoms subside after puberty. Of those who have transitioned to an identified gender, there are startlingly high numbers of detransitioners.

When it comes to what we are doing here in the U.S., I return to the original historical cases I mentioned. In the late 1920s, medical researchers, in the name of mental health, equity, and justice, conducted medical experimentation on hundreds of poor Black boys and men in Tuskegee, Alabama. The result was that they were sterile for the rest of their lives. Some experienced worse conditions.

In the 1960s here in North Carolina, thousands of Black women on welfare were offered health care and better mental health if they tried the medical procedures they were being offered. More than 9,000 women were sterilized and suffered great injustice at the hand of trusted medical professionals in the name of medical advancements.

Now here, it seems that we are hell-bent on doing the same thing to young people who are already suffering more than anyone should. Rather than following the proven and empirical medical guidance of those who are ahead of us, some would have us sterilize our young people in order to alleviate their mental health conditions. Such an approach is dangerous and predatory. 

What our young people need is substantive and long-term mental health care.  Then, once they are are adults, if the symptoms haven’t subsided and they so choose, they should be afforded gender reassignment. To do the opposite allows them to make life-changing, irreversible decisions they may regret later on.

I highly encourage my fellow North Carolinians to stand on the right side of history and move to not repeat the atrocities of our past. Therefore, I have sponsored the “Youth Health Protection Act,” House Bill 808. This bill will protect children until they develop the maturity to fully understand what is at stake when they receive “gender-affirming care.”